Whenever I asked my son to do a simple chore around the house, he would have an excuse of why he couldn’t do it. This led me to believe he is selfish and lazy. Even though I didn’t communicate these thoughts to him, it shut off all possibilities of him helping me because he could sense this negative energy. I wouldn’t force him to do the chore, but I would be very mad at him. When he asked me to do something in return, I would not do it. And if I did, it was out of resentment and anger and not supporting him as a loving Mother would support her child. Not a good place for either of us.
I wanted everyone in my family to help out of their genuine desire to contribute and not out of duty, resentment, or guilt. It is important our family work together to support each other. I also would like my son to be a contributing member to his future family. I was worried I was not modeling this for him.
A breeze of hope surfaced when I repeatedly learned my son cooked with my husband and did other household chores when I was out of town. It took a few out of town trips to realize my stories about him might not be true. I also saw how he would offer his help when we are at other people’s homes. Is it me he is resisting? I stepped back and realized I needed to challenge my beliefs and assumptions about who he is. Instead of fighting his resistance, am I willing to be open and discover what is driving it?
Over time, I learned being in school all day long followed by sports is really tiring. He told me there is a lot of pressure at school and he didn’t need more pressure from me. I learned he is willing to help, but not on my time table. It took me a little longer to realize the completion of the chore within a reasonable timeframe is what really matters; which means the chore doesn’t need to be done right when I ask him to do it. Once I realized all this, I became more flexible on the when, and his willingness to help around the house increased.
Cultivating willingness starts with removing our stories and assumptions of what we think is going on; being open to discover what the resistance is all about by seeing the other person’s challenge. If a sense of acknowledgement of the other person’s experience emerges, then the attachment to what you want loosens a bit. This in turn increases the other person’s willingness to meet your request. It is this dance over time that cultivates the willingness of both people to truly contribute to each other’s well being.